Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Many people debate the policies of the United States government with respect to the conduct of the Vietnam War. The war was unpopular, at best, and many argued that our military should not have fought for South Vietnam. So, what compelled American ground forces to fight an atypical enemy? This thesis explores the motivational factors that influenced the military ground forces on a daily basis. Past research conducted on previous wars serves as the guideline for the methodology used. Combat narratives are the data sources and references to motivational factors by the authors are the data. As a whole, the narratives examined in this study reveal that primary group, combat survival, leadership, and duty were all significant motivating factors with none of the four heavily outweighing the others. Additionally, the narratives were categorized with respect to the characteristics of the author and the author's combat experience. Of those categories, rank produced the most significant differences among motivational factors between groups. Leadership was a prominent motivating factor for officers while enlisted men fought for the good of the primary group and for combat survival.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number



Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Logistics and Acquisition Management of the Air Force Institute of Technology